The San Antonio Spurs once again showed that they are one of the league's premier franchises with yet another NBA Finals appearance in the Gregg Poppovich era.
With the disappointment finish still fresh in the Spurs mind, the journey back to the top of the mountain starts now. Here's a look at the top storylines and rumors surrounding the defending Western Conference champions as they look to defend their title.
Will Manu Ginobili be Back?
The Spurs big three of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili have carried the franchise for the last decade. However, 2013 may have been the final ride. At 36 years old with an expiring contract, Ginobili is a prime candidate to retire before the 2014 series.
The Argentinian shooting guard is set to become a free agent on July 1. There's no way the team would offer him the $14.1 million he made this season, he averaged just 11.8 points in 23.2 minutes per game this season and didn't improve those numbers in the postseason.
He's went from telling the San Antonio Express-News via Spurs Nation that he was not planning to retire on May 31 to telling Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles that he's considering his decision on a day-to-day basis:
All season long I kind of knew that I was going to play one or two more years. But when you are 36 [years old] -- I'm going to be 36 pretty soon -- everything is a day-by-day basis. Once the season finishes and I see how I feel, I can't imagine me not playing at least one more year here, but time will tell. We'll see.
Ginobili was forced to miss 22 games this season with various ailments including injuries to his back and hamstring. It's a very real possibility that the Spurs will need to find a replacement to their slashing guard.
Draft and Stash for the Spurs Again?
The Spurs don't own a marquee pick in the 2013 draft, but they'll have the 28th selection in the first round.
Given R.C. Buford's track record of finding value in the draft, that's still an important asset.
According to Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld, the Spurs may be looking to go with international prospect Livio Jean-Charles in the first round.
Livio Jean-Charles moved into my first round this week. I'm hearing the Spurs may take him and stash him overseas: http://t.co/h75cjG9G23— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 20, 2013
Jean-Charles hasn't been considered a first round pick throughout the draft process, but Buford isn't afraid to take a risk on a player that he likes. Jean-Charles is a 6'9" power forward that the team would be looking to develop for a few years overseas.
Dark Horse for Dwight Howard Sweepstakes?
Tim Duncan started his career playing beside an aging dominant center in David Robinson. Could he spend the twilight of his career playing alongside another dominant center?
According to USA Today's Steve Kyler, it's a possibility. The Spurs are rumored to be in the race for Dwight Howard's services this offseason.
Sources also say that the field for Howard's free agency has widened considerably... Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, San Antonio, LA and Brooklyn— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) June 13, 2013
It may seem like a pipe dream—the Spurs aren't known for making big offseason moves, but as Kyler points out, they could have the resources.
San Antonio has just $32.8 million in salary commits and could have as much as $26 million in capspace in July.— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) June 13, 2013
Acquiring Howard would instantly make the Spurs a favorite to return back to the NBA Finals again next year.